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mosaic picture for sb 267 storyCourtesy photoROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

Non-profit agencies typically have a hard time offering competitive wages for their employees.

A bill recently passed by the Kansas Legislature will allow Liberal’s Mosaic to be more competitive with its employee pay.

At the end of April, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 267, which includes a 25 percent raise for providers of help for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Mosaic Director Janeth Trevizo said the increased wages will be distributed amongst providers to give them more competitive pay.

“Right now, we pay $12 an hour, and overnights, we do an incentive of $1.50,” she said. “With the 25 percent increase rate, that would allow us some more flexibility for more competitive wages to be able to bring that up.”

With other employers paying as much as $15 an hour, Trevizo said Mosaic wanted to make sure its employees were compensated fairly for their work, as well as provide continuity and personalization of services, which in turn keeps them working with IDD clients.

“Turnover is really big because of the wage differences, and people are trying to support their families, make ends meet,” she said. “Even though they want to follow a purpose and make a difference, sometimes, you aren’t able to follow your heart and do the job you want to do because you’re not making the wages you need to also maintain the lifestyle you need to take care of your own family.”

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Trevizo said Mosaic officials are thrilled with the support they have received from lawmakers.

“This is a historic increase rate,” she said. “Last year, they did the 7 percent. That’s what allowed us to do the $12 an hour and the $1.50 incentive for overnights. Including that in our budget would be a huge step in the right direction for the continuity of our individuals in service.”

Trevizo said she particularly likes the aspect of being able to provide a better continuity for Mosaic’s clients.

“Typically, 500 people walk in and out of people’s lives who come here, work here, support people in service, people with IDD,” she said. “If I’m an individual with an intellectual disability, by the end of my life, I have met 500 people who have come in and out to support me. That’s a lot of people, and we want to experience continuity in care and support and personalized services.”

Trevizo said providing competitive wages also allows Mosaic to retain and cultivate staff to remain more of a presence have them make more of a difference in the person’s life by personalizing services. 

“You won’t have so many people in and out of their lives, and that’s part of the reason we want to grow our shared living program where an individual out in the community is interested in the same things an individual is interested in,” she said. “Therefore, they become a contractor through a provider like Mosaic who offers shared living, and they provide that service, get compensated.”

Trevizo said this allows the IDD client to have contact with one person who is providing care and not having to teach their routine to a new individual every six months.

“They know how they like their eggs,” she said. “They know how they like to dress.”

Trevizo said these are things many people take for granted.

“We experience that continuity in our lives, and with our individuals in service, who will be here to take care of me today?” she said. “What kind of activity will I be offered?”

Trevizo said this is how Mosaic personalizes the experience for an individual with an IDD, and the agency has employees who have experienced this by working there for several years.

“We have some long-time staff, which is really awesome, me included,” she said. “I’ve been here for 13 years. Therefore, I know a lot of their history, the things they like, the things they’ve experienced, the conversations you could have.”

Trevizo said knowing what is going on in the lives of both an employee and a client makes for a more meaningful life for both.

“They are your family at the end of the day,” she said. “You are providing a service, and you’re taking care of someone so they thrive in life.”

As for the financial impact SB 267 will have on Mosaic, Trevizo said she is unsure of that at this time.

“We would have to crunch in the numbers in our budget,” she said. “We are currently working on our fiscal year ’23 budget. We are playing with some numbers there. We don’t have a definite vision of what that’ll look like, but it would greatly impact our provider rate and therefore help us. We just don’t have the accurate calculations right now. We can’t celebrate until it’s 10 days after Governor Kelly has signed.”

Gov. Laura Kelly signed the bill into law in late April, with the exception of a line item veto. Trevizo said the law will officially go into effect at the start of the new fiscal year July 1.

Trevizo said SB 267 was largely supported by legislators in both the House and the Senate, including 125th House District Representative Shannon Francis.

“He’s been such a huge supporter for us,” she said. “He has visited our area and advocates for people with intellectual disabilities.”

At a recent legislative luncheon in Liberal, Francis voiced support for the bill, and Trevizo cheered the support Mosaic has gotten from the representative.

“We want to personally thank him, all senators and representatives for the tremendous support they have provided to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Kansas by advocating for provider rate increases,” she said. “This is a historic provider increase that would help agencies like Mosaic continue providing high-quality, vital services with a stable workforce. We appreciate Rep. Francis sharing our mission and continual advocacy.”

Above all else, Trevizo said SB 267 is beneficial because it makes the difficult task non-profit agencies like Mosaic have of keeping up with competitive wages a little easier.

“We do not have access to the funds,” she said. “We rely on what the state is giving us for the provider rate of an individual who may or may not need more care than what is being assessed. We don’t just say, ‘The state said they only need this limited support.’ It’s individualized. We provide the support they need regardless of what comes on that paper.”